Tag Archives: bipolar

Over the weekend …

I had a total bipolar meltdown on my dad.

He was, at first, completely blindsided, and then perplexed.

I usually meltdown on my mom, who knows to just let it ride until the event is over.

But she wasn’t there and I was melting down in real time.

I think it was good for him, my Dad, that is, to see me as I have a propensity to be.

Totally crazy, on the edge of straight-jacket territory.

A mess.

I try to shield him from this side of me, because, well, at the risk of starting a riot, he is my dad and is, with abject certainty, a man.

Men rarely understand the astounding psyche of women.

Don’t roll your eyes and pretend to be insulted.

We know that maneuver.

Add bipolar to the mix and a total discombobulation takes over.

I love my Dad.

He is my, second only to Jesus and third to John Robert (who is dead, by the way), my hero.

A man who’s integrity I would bet my last dime on.

But he isn’t my mom.

He wants desperately to pat me on the head and tell me all is ok.

All is not okay.

I’M HAVING A MELTDOWN, WHERE IS MY MOTHER?

In my own defense, I didn’t say that.

I wanted to, but felt the ramifications would skew the effort to find out WHERE THE HELL my mom was.

So I cried, sobbed, made little sense while blindly clinging to my Dad.

I seriously doubt he will
ever be quite the same.

It’s a bit, I suppose, like trying raw oysters.

It sounds gross, but the rewards … well, they, by spades, outweigh the risks.

I hope, some day, to eat raw oysters with my dad.

A small, and yet ambiguous dream.

He hugged me while I was sobbing incoherently and told me he loved me, no matter what.

Major points for that.

Major.

Points.

Major.

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Sometimes, for reasons I can’t explain …

I cry.

And then, when I go to work, which unfortunately, I have to, I cry there too.

I try to hide it, but sometimes, it is obviously, due to the questions and odd looks, evident, for I am questioned.

Or maybe mentally assaulted is the better description.

Have you been crying?

What have you been crying about?

What’s wrong?

Why yes, I want to say … I have been crying nearly inconsolably for absolutely no reason at all.

None.

I have broken things that I don’t really care about, deleted things that I did and find myself on the outside of everything I hold dear to my heart … but that is simply a byproduct.

Just forty-eight hours ago, I was manic and driving 90 miles a hour to keep up with my thoughts.

But there were no tears.

Only euphoria.

But now, I cry just to be crying.

One jag after another until I have a headache and nothing, other than red and swollen eyes, to show for it.

I cry at song lyrics, at the rebuff from a friend, because the light turned red, for the homeless man I saw at the intersection.

I have no control over it.

I want to, but it is beyond what I am capable of.

For whatever reason, it pisses people off when you tell them you don’t know what you are crying about.

What?

Do they never, ever, ever cry without a reason?

Really?  Do they actually expect people to believe that?

Don’t worry, though, not everyone who swings between euphoria, ecstasy, and suddenly in the dredges of despair but still thinking in terms of the ecstasy factor, is nuts.

A few of us hold a golden trophy with our bipolar names on it, but not everyone.

It isn’t contagious.  Remember that.

It.

Isn’t.

Contagious.

And the oddness of it, in itself, is, in that in itself, there is oddness.

They want to know why.

There isn’t a why.

They want to know what about.

There isn’t a what about.

I used a gallon of the “it get’s the red out” Visine today.  A useless fluid that burns the eyes and does little to hide the fact that I was crying about nothing in particular.

Why is it so important to have something to cry about.  There are moments, such as the one I am currently in, that I cry because I simply can’t stop it.

I could make up stuff to cry about, but I shouldn’t have to.

I should be able to maneuver though this stage of my, what should I call it?, psychosis? without being put on the spot to try to explain the unexplainable.

Maybe I should start telling people I have a hangover.  Maybe that would be more well received than the response of I’m not crying about anything in particular, I’m just crying.

Because I’m nuts.

That always goes over well.

I’m nuts.

Does that soothe your mind?   Always have been and have little hope of being otherwise.

Sometimes I cry.

Get used to it or get over it.

If I am very lucky, it will only last a day or two and I can go back to being simply, though wonderfully, semi-manic.

I can assure you, it is much preferred.

I don’t get to the crying stage very often, praise the Good Lord, but when I do, I’m there.

Nothing that can be said, no pats on the head or uninvited and unwanted hugs can change it.

It is what it is.  Those who feel this way from time to time know, without a shadow of a doubt the sheer amount of courage it takes to move from one minute, one hour, one day into the other.

The rest of you … I will always be an enigma and I am tired of trying to explain it.

It is what it is and that is simply the way of it.

It doesn’t change who I am because this, accepted or not, is who I am.

If you know me you already know that.

If you don’t, you never will.

No hard feelings.

Tomorrow is a brand new day.

a light shining in the darkness, whether in day or night, is a grand thing.

a light shining in the darkness, whether in day or night, is a grand thing.

Yesterday, a particularly difficult patient said …

you are acting odd; what is wrong with you?

I, with considerable effort, put my overloaded, hyper-extended, full-to-overflowing brain pan into “be nice” mode, rolled my eyes (of this I am certain) and said “I’m sorry, I was momentarily distracted by a conversation I had with your doctor about your condition”.

An over-the-top, bar none, bald-faced lie.

I was stalling until I could catch up to their hatefulness with a smile I didn’t feel and control of a finger I was having trouble restraining.

I was, instead, desperately trying to listen to what they said, their concerns, fears and complaints.

It was a strenuous effort to hold on to their words, to hear their voice.  I was elsewhere, anywhere, everywhere.

It is where I have been for the past few weeks and quite frankly, I was exhausted by trying to be here when I am there and there when I am here and somewhere when I am everywhere.

It is not polite to tell patients to shut the hell up … that all they do is moan and complain about things that are mundane on any ordinary day.

Never mind that, in this establishment, such activity is frowned upon.

Severely frowned upon.

I want to tell them this; listen … I got up this morning with a thousand random thoughts running through my head, barely remembered to wash my hair while I was in the shower (my legs remain unshaven because, dammit, I forgot while I was thinking about the sunrise over the desert west of Las Vegas, a sight I have never seen but hope to and the thought of shaving my legs never entered my mind during the sunrise scene.)

I washed my body simply because there was an escape clause somewhere in my brain that says you must take a shower daily, wash your hair and wash your body (with soap, not just water), but there is nothing that says “you know, you really should shave your legs”.

I suppose I realize that is a necessity once the hair starts being evident through my clothes.  Do people notice?  Probably.  Do I?  Not until I cause myself hair-inflicted injury during a nightmare (or on a good, though extremely rare night), an erotic,  racy dream of some sort.

Talk about a downer, when in the midst of a truly wonderful dream full of potential, my unshaven legs decide to speak up and thus take precedence over more pleasurable endeavors.

Even then, there is no guarantee that it will be done because my brain is on overdrive and going a thousand places at once.

I would love to be able to write a manual on how to talk and deal with a person when I (or a billion other people) are in the throes of a manic episode.

It would be short and to the point.

Shut the hell up unless the building is on fire and then, only tell me if I, personally, am on fire.

Otherwise, it likely won’t register.

In my head, I told that patient, a rude and hateful individual (and would be so even if I weren’t in my current state of mind) in the most placating, compassionate  tone I could muster that I was doing my best and was hoping to meet their needs.

It didn’t go down exactly like that and it is possible that somebody will be getting a phone call.  So be it.

It is what it is.

A typical day for me where I was up until this morning consists of waking up and immediately starting the internal argument of whether to shower first or brush my teeth; is the towel warmer on and did I take off my paper bracelet.  Oh no, is  there a clean towel to dry off with and is it in the towel warmer that I may have forgotten to turn on; damn this water is hot.  Damn, this water is cold.  I have soap in my eyes and while rinsing it out, don’t want to aspirate.  Lord this water is going to burn my eyes out of my head.  It just blasted in my ear.  How much do I need my eardrums.  Did I rinse the shampoo out of my hair.  What is that sound?  Oh, I remember, I started Mahler’s First on my Jawbone speaker but now wish I had put Chopin on because he does piano so well, but then Brian Crain is my now favorite, aside from my friend who plays my favorite song, one he wrote and played at my late husband’s funeral, on piano or my other friend, who plays piano and guitar, or at least, though little proof has been provided, I have heard tales.  He played for me once, at least I think he did, but that was a hundred years ago  and I may have imagined it… well not a hundred, but, at any rate, a long time; anyway,  maybe Brian would be best because he is predictable and while that can become tedious, it is, at times, soothing to know that what I hear will be similar and nearly indistinguishable from the last thirty things I  heard him play.

I love Brian, but  he has a one track mind and little imagination.  That is, of course, only my opinion and even though I am only now learning to play piano, I know what it should sound like.

If anyone sees a run-on sentence, feel free to comment to yourself because if you tell me, that restrained finger may very well break free.  Take no offense, however, because you have been warned.

I proclaim the fifth and refuse to incriminate myself even as I am incriminating myself.

Thank God I have some Barry and Sir Elton mixed in with it, otherwise, I would be imagining my myself in a mysterious musical Brigadoon where everything sounded the same and I would relive the same moment over and over.

God forbid.

I need to get dressed but the clothes I washed three days ago are in the dryer; if, however, I turn the dryer on refresh, they will be as good as new unless I left lipstick (which I rarely wear but for some stupid reason carry in my pocket) or one of my much beloved, blue ink, sharpie retractable pens.  They can make a mess on a uniform top that even a Tide Pen can’t fix and ruin a perfectly good pen at the same time.

My notes are extensive and must, without fail, be written in blue ink in the form of a retractable sharpie pen.  Anything else leaves me bewildered because, for no other reason, it just isn’t right.  Not now.  Now while my brain is on a vacation to Uranus, which has recently been deemed as nothing in particular which means, in essence, that my brain is just hanging out on the outskirts of the universe with the outcasts.

Perfect.

And now back to the patient who wants to know what is wrong with me … In the end, I think I will introduce him to the finger after all.  I think he could use it and since I have a stellar record as a nurse, I feel it is time to shake things up a bit.

So, in my mind, I give the patient the finger, tell hem to go jump in a lake and walk out of the room whistling.

I will know Monday if I actually did that or simply fantasized about it.

Secretly?  I’m hoping I did it.  I am feeling reckless and rebellious and find that my “give a damn” has a dead battery.

It is what it is and life, be it good, bad or indifferent, goes on.

As mamaw Daphne said, this too shall pass but when it does, it will leave a mark.

Thankfully, when this morning dawned, I found myself to be on the north side of sanity.

It’s all going to be ok.

So I am back to me until I find myself not myself the next time.

I am always thankful that Jesus loves me even when I am in a most unlovable state.  He is my rock and I have complete faith in Him that He will keep me no matter where my mind has gone.  He blesses me most often, it seems, when I am least deserving.

My life … it is always an adventure and (for the most part, except when it isn’t) a fun one.

Frenetic in China Town, NY … I can relate to thatNYCchinatown

When I am manic …

everything becomes a challenge.  Thinking straight, keeping a single thought in my head, knowing reality from fantasy; all challenges.  I would be lying if I said that the feeling I get when in a manic state is anything but exhilarating, it is also exhausting.  The thoughts run through my mind at a speed that I cannot keep up with and the important things are often lost in the fray.  It is difficult to explain the whirlwind of thoughts and ideas to someone who has never experienced mania.  It is like being in a hurricane, protected from the wind and rain, but not the chaos.  How odd is that.  There are those who will read this post and say to themselves, “I know that feeling … I get it”.  At the same time, there will be ones who read it who say “that gal is as nutty as a fruitcake”.  But the reality of it is that I’m not nutty, or crazy or over the edge.  I am simply, at the moment, in a state of hypomania.

Manic stages are a part of my existence.  It took me a long time to realize that these episodes were, for me, part of normal life.  It is so abnormal to most people and they find it absurd on so many levels and simply, even if they try, cannot comprehend that the mind can warp at such a speed.  It is both fascinating and confusing, enlightening and disturbing.  I wish that there were words in my head to explain what I feel when I am in a manic state.  Though I have never tried cocaine, from the descriptions of those I know who have, it is similar to the feeling that comes when the hyperactivity takes over my mind and body and reality becomes blurred with fantasy; dreams become real and thoughts are not to be trusted.

I find it addictive, the feeling that nothing is impossible and all things are within my reach.  It is nearly a letdown when this feeling begins to ebb, which it must, if I am to survive; a disappointment to know that the chaos of my mind will, once again, become somewhat normal.  Being in this state does not change who I am at the core, but it changes what I am to the observer.  Try as I might, I have not found a way to harness the charge of energy that overtakes me and throws me into an atmosphere that is full of everything.  Again, to one who has never experienced such a moment, it is hard to explain.

Imagine being in a forest, a beautiful forest with the leaves alive and every growing thing beautiful with springtime in the mountains.  Now imagine that all the growing things have a personality and can interact, on a personal level, with actions and words. Being in a manic state is similar to that.  So much information.  So much stimulation.  It is like having goosebumps all the time.  Who doesn’t like goosebumps, right?  But constantly?  Not such a great thing.  But I am not alone in my experiences.   There are so many others who are in or soon will be, in the state I am in.   I count myself among the lucky ones that the manic cycles last only a few days as opposed to a few months, for I fear that I would really try to fly if it lasted more than a day or so.  Yes, I am one of the lucky ones.  But to those who live with this feeling day after day, month after month, I can understand how it would be so easy to try to find a way to put an end to everything.  To make it go away.  I spent one entire year of my life in such a state and am still wondering how I lived through it.   If it were not for the support of my family and friends along with the faith in my God that He would, eventually end this state of chaos, I could not have survived it.

There is nothing wrong with feeling this way, but it is difficult to function in a normally functioning world while in this place.  It takes extreme concentration and is, on every level, exhausting.  Knowing that there are others who face the same experiences is a help, but it doesn’t make living through an ordinary day any less stressful.  It is like fighting fire with gasoline.  The more I try to contain it, the more out of control it seems to be.  As much as the hypo-manic state makes me feel invincible, I am always glad to see it come to and end, for once again, I can feel normal in the sense of what the world deems normal.  I am different.  I don’t mind that. As a matter of fact, I embrace it, but being different has its limits and I am, almost always, happy when my thoughts slow down and I feel like I am, whether I am or not, in some modicum of control. I would not change my experiences for anything, for they make me who I am, but if it were in my power, I would change the perception of myself when I am not myself.  But life is life and I live with it.  And I’m not the only one.  That brings me comfort; knowing that I am not alone in my struggles.  I am encouraged.  And so a former blog post about encouragement comes full circle.  Nothing is as powerful as the sharing of life experiences.  It connects us all; I am not alone and for that, I am grateful.

octobersaturday-151

What can you do …

when you are trapped between that realm of normalcy and  insanity?   A tough question with no easy answer.  After  years of battling hours, days, even weeks of rapid cycling, I still have nothing to offer.  When those times come about, it seems that we, as beings, cease to belong to the world around us.  Everything is distorted and there is no orientation or order to any of it.  It comes down to the ability to realize what is happening and take it, as much as possible, in stride, until it passes.  I’m sure there are many people who have no idea what “rapid cycling” is and do not recognize it when people they know are going through it.  To the “normal” person, it looks like acting out or even attention seeking behavior.  Without knowledge of the situation, it would seem, and aptly so, that the person you know has become someone that you cannot comprehend.  I suppose, without actually meaning to be, this post is as much for the people who cannot fathom a place of uncertainty,  and downright dubiety than for those of us who know it more intimately than we would like.

Rapid cycling is a real and, most often, a permanent thing.  I am blessed to only have this occur once or twice a year; not so in my youth as it would happen two or three times per month and could, in the worst of times, last a week or more.   It is not uncommon for rapid cycling to last for months or even a year, but for the rest of us, the lucky ones,  rapid cycling comes with little or no trigger and can last as little as four hours.  The mood swings are awesome and completely, enigmatically  exhausting.  By the time it is over, I usually feel like I have been ran over by a very large, heavily loaded truck.  My brain is foggy, my senses slow and my reflexes, at least for a short time, are nonexistent.  In the grand scheme of things, it is not dissimilar to a seizure that lasts for hours.  Right and wrong seem to meld seamlessly and, from previous experience, it is most important to try to maintain control during one of these episodes.  After all these years, I have learned the warning signs and work very hard to isolate myself, as much as possible, until it has ran its course.

I know, without reservation, that there are others who feel the same way.  It makes me feel extremely vulnerable to speak of such things, but one person’s experience can often mean the difference between making or breaking to someone who feels the devastating, overwhelming range of emotions that define who we are at a given time.  Everyone experiences, at some point, sadness and joy, but this goes beyond that.  It is joy that is so inexplicable that jubilant takes a back seat; sadness that threatens our very being and, in the midst, every conceivable emotion in between.

I subscribe to the supposition that most adults have, at this point, learned to recognize the warning signs and may even be able to pinpoint the triggers; for that reason, this post is not directed to you.  It is directed to younger people who have thoughts and feelings that they cannot understand and find that, when trying to describe it, the people they love and trust do not understand.  It is important to know that it is likely that they will never truly understand.  They will accept you, humor you, try to get you, but unless they have experienced the phenomenon, they will not ever really and truly know what you speak of.  BUT … that doesn’t mean that there aren’t people who do.

Look inside yourself, learn to know the warning signs and be aware of the consequences of rash and often, irrational choices.  Even when you feel out of control, at the core, you are in control.  The decisions and choices you make, the roads you take, the destinations you choose will all define who you are in the end.  Just because you have moments of weakness doesn’t give you free reign to make poor choices.  It is of inimitable importance that one understands the state they are in and realizes that the choices they would normally make are much, much more complicated during this time.

If I can do nothing else, I encourage everyone to learn about rapid cycling so that when faced with it, whether personally or through someone they know and love, they will understand that it isn’t something that can fixed by advice.  It can’t be fixed by instruction or direction and it has no understanding of “buckling down”.

It just is.  And, as quickly as it comes, it will end.  Have faith that God will not let you destroy yourself and know, with certainty, that this too, shall pass.  I tell you this from experience so that  you, whoever you are, will know that you are not alone.

I believe in an Awesome God and know that the experiences and trials we face will help us help others.  If I didn’t believe in God and the unshakable Spirit of Christ, then I would be certain that I was cursed.  But I am not cursed, I am me and I will make the very best of it that I can.  Be encouraged and then encourage others.  Your life will be richer for it.

I’m forgiven… the rest doesn’t really matter

 

It’s hard to know, sometimes, when the darkness that feels like it is closing in is, in reality, closing in.  Feelings of anxiety and paranoia mixed with increased self-confidence and a feeling of invincibility co-mingle to give a yo-yo effect that threatens to destroy what may or may not be something meaningful or important.  For someone who has never experienced nor known or been around anyone with bipolar disorder (and those of you who know me, whether you knew it or not, can take yourself off this particular list), it can be befuddling at best and, at worst, frightening.  A person with bipolar disorder can function just as well as anyone else as long as the neurons, protons, croutons and other “ons” in their brain are going about their business as usual… but it only takes one thing, usually something the person couldn’t name as a trigger if a gun was held to their head (no pun intended).  But there won’t be any of the people in the life a bipolarist who won’t see that something was off.  Usually they will talk around the dinner table to their family or perhaps discuss the situation with friends… the one person they do not talk with is the person they perceive is having a problem.  I have to ask this… if someone were witnessing a brutal beating of another human being, would they call the police or try to stop it in some way, or call their friends or gather with their family and discuss that something is wrong.  I guess I sound like i’m ranting, and i am.  I’m pretty upset at this point that all the world around me noticed that “something was up” and that I wasn’t acting myself, but chose to yuk it up with each other and discuss how different and how “not like myself” i’ve been acting.  No doubt, this entry will step on some toes and most likely hurt some feelings.  Sorry ’bout that.  After a problem has been identified, people say  “i knew something was off”.  So what were they waiting for…?  a ribbon.  These folks say repeatedly that they are my friends and are always there for me, no matter what… it is, i guess, sometimes exciting on some primitive level, to be included by proxy, in a critical situation… but what about the everyday?  The little things that don’t add up but happen with increasing frequency like snapping at people, hatefulness, dressing in clothes that look slept in, unusual eating habits, distractability, just to name a few… these need to be addressed quickly as this is especially important for the sufferer/offender, who rarely, if ever, knows this stuff they think they are “dealing with” is noticeable to the world that lives outside their brain.  When there is a known history, it becomes even more important to bring the reality of a possible crisis to light.  People suffering from functional bipolarism (my own made up term) are just like anyone else.  For the most part, their behavior is normal on every level, and during those exceptions when their behavior deviates from the norm, it is the people who are closest to them… who know them best who should be the first to say hmmm…  this ain’t right…  Satan has made me his current pasttime and, for his own jollies, is enjoying seeing me squirm.  But be that as it may, he cannot break me, for the king of my heart and soul is my savior and the song that God sings over me is beautiful.  If the devil thinks this is going unnoticed, he’s a bigger idiot than i gave him credit for.  God sees what that little pissant is up to and GOD will sustain me.  I didn’t recognize the signs.  Well, actually, that is a falsehood.  I did recognize the signs of feeling depressed, but the feelings came around the holidays and during an exceptionally bleak winter.  I attributed it to the lack of sunshine, the stress of the holidays and wild work days… to the devastation of losing my Jim, tay leaving for college, new challenges in my life.  All reasonable, analytical and fair assumptions and things people with normal brains experience just as I do.  What I didn’t see, and what “normal” brains rarely experience on any level that is noticeable, was the change in my behavior.  But many people did, yet they chose to keep that little bit of information to themselves.  Had Jim been alive, he would not only have noticed, but would have made comments on it… comments, i might add, that would have driven me to the point of distraction and i would have made an appointment with my doctor just to get him off my back.  I freely admit that I am outspoken… a trait that took me many years to attain, and one that I have no intention of giving up… but i’m not mean about it.  I often do things at the last moment, but that is no different than any other time in my life… I am an optimist… sometimes to the point where friends and family want to shove a sock in my mouth… but i don’t, on a “normal” day think i can fly… but when my behavior changes enough to be noticed by my dad, a man who would sit with the walls falling in on his head and not know it, then there is obviously a problem and it must be dealt with immediately.  I don’t deny that I am currently in a crisis brought on by my disorder nor do i deny that i have no idea what caused it.  Looking back over the past year, it is likely that jim’s death was the catalyst, but, as any bonified bipolarist will tell you, we are masters of concealment, even when we don’t know we are concealing… i don’t deny that adjustments needed to be made… i don’t deny that, now that someone has made comments on the rapidly changing moods and isolation ( my mom, who knows me better than anyone, said something first and made me evaluate my current state – i called the doctor the very next day), i was able, then,  to see the warning signs and recognize the change in my behavopr… the warning signs were screaming at the top of their lungs… they were screaming “oh my stars, girl, you are losing it”.  I had a friend, more like a sister, really, tell me today that they felt like i hated them.  If that isn’t a flag, i don’t know what is. She told me she wanted to congratulate me on my accomplishments but felt that i had been congratulating myself quite enough.  A braggart?  I don’t now, nor have i ever considered myself to be a braggart… the things i accomplish have nothing to do with me but with my God who empowers and blesses me…. that should have raised another flag. Bipolar disorder really is a neighborhood disease because let me tell you this… during a manic icandoanythingandthereisnothingtostandinmyway phase, i am in the most danger to myself… not because i think of suicide, but because there is no speed too fast,no crag to rocky, no risk to high…. because, well, because i can do anything and it will have no effect on me.  I look around at what i know, while i am drunk and sick from the new meds, and realize that i’m not sure i have friends, but instead, people who think they know me.  People who know me would see things that are out of kilter for me, then talk about it to their friends and family… I know who i can trust… I know who i could, at one time, trust, and I know who I can’t trust… sound paranoid…?  it may be.  But i’m disappointed in my friends and frankly i don’t mind telling them so. The doctor seems to think that meds that would kill a team of clydesdales are the answer, and for now, just to ensure that my brain is able to defend itself from the tentacles of satan, i will take them… but i know in my heart of hearts that what i really need is a boatride on a hot summer day…   To hear a song of praise to my  Father which speaks directly to my heart, click on the title link.  It will take you to a youtube video.  I don’t love any of you any less… know that for sure, but trust is not something i give out lightly and right now, i could count the people i trust on three fingers.  Don’t let your feelings get hurt when I don’t blubber my undying gratitude to you just because you “knew something was going on”.  Life is life… regardless of who’s living it.